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Gary Patterson routinely beat Texas; now he joins the Longhorns under Steve Sarkisian

Calling all Longhorns. It's time for something different, indeed. Gary Patterson is now at Texas, guitar and all. 

In a move that once seemed unthinkable, Patterson, the coach who has his own statue outside TCU’s football stadium, has been named special assistant to Texas coach Steve Sarkisian, a team spokesman said Friday.

Not that this was any big surprise. Patterson showed up at the UT men’s basketball game Tuesday at the Erwin Center wearing a white pullover emblazoned with a Longhorns logo.

TCU head coach Gary Patterson chats with Texas' Steve Sarkisian before their game last October in Fort Worth. Patterson, who abruptly resigned a few weeks later, has been hired by Texas as a defensive analyst.

Now that it is official, however, the hiring triggers all sorts of speculation.

Is Patterson some kind of defensive coordinator-in-waiting if Pete Kwiatkowski’s unit struggles next season? 

Is he a head coach-in-waiting as the Horns mark time in the Big 12 while waiting for the eventual move to the SEC? 

More:Gary Patterson and TCU agree to part ways, coach won’t finish ’21

One of Patterson’s oldest friends and biggest supporters just happens to be Texas' athletic director, who used to be the TCU athletic director.

Former TCU football coach Gary Patterson, top right, was spotted at Tuesday night's UT men's basketball game at the Erwin Center wearing a white Longhorns shirt and enjoying the game with UT athletic director Chris Del Conte. Three days later, UT announced that Patterson was joining the Longhorns.

By joining UT, Patterson is reunited with Chris Del Conte. When pressed Tuesday night about when Patterson’s hire would be announced, Del Conte just scoffed. After all, the school’s human resources department had posted a job description that seemed tailor-made for someone with the coach’s credentials.

Patterson and Del Conte sat side-by-side at the basketball game and talked the whole night.

At some point, Patterson, 61, could get restless. The guitar-picking, country-crooning coach might need to recharge his batteries, but it seems doubtful his days as a head coach are completely over.

Golden: Texas, if you truly want to fix the defense, go get Gary Patterson ASAP

On UT’s job description, the lead bullet point states the candidate would “assist with special projects assigned by the Head Football Coach.”

The job requires a candidate to “assist with the overall practice and game day preparation, statistical analysis, and video analysis of opposing teams.” This candidate would also work on self-scout evaluation and “travel with the coaching staff and team to provide statistical support.”

In 20-plus seasons at TCU, Gary Patterson fashioned a 181-79 overall record, including an 11-6 mark in bowl games and an impressive 7-3 record in the past 10 years against Texas. He resigned from the Horned Frogs on Oct. 31 and will serve as a Longhorns defensive analyst.

UT preferred a candidate who had “experience as an Offensive or Defensive Coordinator in a Division I Collegiate or NFL football program,” according to the job posting.

Patterson grew up in Kansas, played for Kansas State and started his coaching career as a graduate assistant in Manhattan, Kan. He has been a defensive coach throughout his career and first went to TCU in 1998 as Dennis Franchione’s defensive coordinator.

Mark your calendar:Sarkisian sets key spring practice, game dates for Longhorns football

Patterson was promoted to head coach before the Mobile Alabama Bowl in 2000 when Franchione left TCU for Alabama. By the 2002 season, the Horned Frogs were winning 10 games and the program was off and running. His social media catchphrase of “Calling All Frogs” — meant to signal it’s game time — became a TCU staple. 

Patterson would assemble a 181-79 record in 20-plus seasons and an 11-6 mark in bowl games. He was a constant thorn in UT’s side after TCU joined the Big 12. Patterson owned Texas, going 7-3 in the last 10 matchups.

“I know where they’re going to be, and we know what they’re going to do,” former Texas coach Tom Herman said in 2020 about facing Patterson’s defense. “And they just do it so well. It’s extremely challenging.”

Gary Patterson shouts instructions to his players during the first half of a 31-12 loss to Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., on Oct 30. Patterson resigned as the Horned Frogs' coach the next day.

Patterson loved playing the underdog role and always relished knocking the Horns down a peg. Asked why he does so well against UT, Patterson said in 2020, “Oh, I don’t know. I’m not doing any bulletin board material here. Our kids like playing against Texas.”

This season, the Frogs were in a tailspin, headed toward a 5-7 finish, when Patterson abruptly resigned Oct. 31. School officials asked him to finish out the season, but he declined. Patterson later told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the decision was made in part to “stop the noise” and negativity around the TCU program. The Frogs were 3-5 and 1-4 in Big 12 play.

At the time of his departure, Patterson was the nation's second-longest tenured active head coach behind Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, who took over his post in 1999. 

So what’s next? Patterson’s name was loosely connected to some jobs in late November and popped up as a possible defensive analyst. 

Texas has hired some well-known coaches in the past as analysts. UT’s job normally paid $25,000 annually, but coaches like the role to stay connected to the game while they recharge and for the state health insurance benefits.

Fans will be disappointed to learn that analysts cannot do any on-field coaching, according to NCAA rules. Most analysts essentially work behind the scenes and help prepare the coaching staff. It’s mostly an administrative role.

Patterson had been spotted in and around the UT football facilities over the past month or so. 

“I've obviously got a great deal of respect for Gary,” Sarkisian said at his early signing day press conference Dec. 15. “I know that he’s trying to figure out in what capacity does he want to continue this profession. We have not made any determination on if we would want him here or if he would want to be here. 

“But the reality is there’s definitely a level of respect for the job that he's done at TCU,” Sarkisian added.

Still, it’ll be odd seeing Patterson in a burnt orange shirt and wearing a Texas visor instead of TCU purple. How this new arrangement will work is anyone’s guess. 

Contact Brian Davis by phone or text at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com or @BDavisAAS.